(October 2005)
COLDS and FLU

Since it is that time of year again, most of us will have to deal with the ugly cold and flu season. It is very expensive and not practical to try to store a lot of cold medicines in your food storage. I thought I would write a newsletter about alternative and natural prevention and treatments, as well as the usual common sense aproach. Some are folk medicine and I write them for information only, please do your own research if you plan to pursue natural or Herbal remedies since they can be as dangerous as traditional medicine, ALWAYS remember “just because it is natural does not mean it is automatically safe”. If you are taking any other kind of medicines or have any kind of health problem it is important to talk to a doctor first to be sure it won’t interfere with your meds or cause any interactions. Some Herbs like liquorice can raise blood pressure. Used with care, Natural treatments can be affordable and storable, and you can even grow some in your gardens. You should also be aware that Natural treatments do not always give immediate results, they are meant to “cure” the root of the problem and need to get through your system which takes a little time, unlike traditional meds which often just mask a symptom quickly.

What causes colds and Flu? And what is the difference? The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses. Colds generally last about a week and the flu lasts as long as two weeks. Colds are more common during the winter, but the flu appears almost exclusively during the winter months in the northern hemisphere. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as High fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu, Colds cause a sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, a low-grade fever with muscle aches and a general sick feeling. They may also cause laryngitis , Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

PREVENTION-

The Number 1 step in preventing illness is to make sure your body is strong enough to fight them off on its own, getting plenty of rest, eating nutrient rich foods, avoiding too much stress, (I know easier said than done) is very important. Lack of sleep and too much stress weakens our system and actually depletes more nutrients from our bodies faster.

Making sure to wash hands and surfaces frequently helps stop passing the germs along. Please note Antibacterial soaps do not kill cold and flu viruses, but soap and warm/hot water does help remove them. Anti-bacterial soaps also remove the normal bacteria that live on your skin that can actually protect you. Use a bleach mixture to clean surfaces.

Even though it is cold outside, let some fresh air into your living space every day. Circulation of air is necessary to move offending viruses and bacteria out of your space. Consider buying a high quality air purifier that also offers the technology of germicidal protection.

WHAT TO DO WHEN SICK-

Ok, all failed and you (or your family member) is sick, now what? Make sure to wash bedding and especially the pillow frequently. Since you breath into the pillow and it is in contact with your face and hands almost constantly, it collects the germs and if not washed you can keep re-infecting yourself with those germs and stay sick a lot longer.

Drink a lot of fluids, especially water. This helps to flush out the germs from your system, They also will help to prevent dehydration caused by fever. Avoid high sugar fruit juices and sodas. It is also a good idea to avoid any Dairy products, Dairy seems to make more phlem and mucus. stay away from heavy and high processed food.

Gargle with warm salt water, Gargling a few times a day can relieve a sore throat. Use saline nose drops. When applied to the nasal passages, saline drops help moisten the irritated skin and help to loosen mucus.

Use vaporizers and humidifiers. A vaporizer works by generating steam that can help to loosen secretions and make breathing easier. A humidifier sprays cool mist into the air and can produce the same results as a vaporizer. However, both machines can become breeding grounds for mildew and other types of organisms So, it is necessary to clean and disinfect this equipment according to the manufacturer's guidelines. A vaporizer or a humidifier is particularly useful for small children for whom a cold becomes the "croup."

WHAT IS…?

Analgesics: relieve muscle aches and pains and reduce fever. Example include acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen. Note: Aspirin should not be given to children with a fever because they risk developing Reye's syndrome.

Antihistamines: These block histamine, a substance that is released in response to allergies, which causes a runny nose and sneezing. they help dry a runny nose and watery eyes. often cause drowsiness.

Expectorants: work by thinning mucus so that it can be coughed up more easily. An example is guaifenesin.

Antitussives: work by quieting or suppressing a cough. They are usually recommended for dry coughs when you are not producing mucus. An example is dextromethorphan. Decongestants: can be administered either orally or by nasal spray. They work by constricting or tightening the blood vessels located in the membranes of the nose and air passages. This action forces much of the blood out of the membranes so that they shrink and the air passages open up again. Some examples are pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine and phenylpropanolamine.

Be aware that Cold medicines can raise blood pressure, and should never be taken by anyone that is already taking any kind of sleeping aid or anti depressant unless approved by a doctor.

ALTERNATIVES –

  • Cinnamon: Will stop vomiting and relieve feelings of nausea. Take as a tea. Cinnamon oil also had anti-bacterial properties
  • Echinacea has in fact been used by America Indians for hundreds of years. It is native to the North America Plains, but varieties of the species are now found on most continents. Echinacea increases levels of properdin, a chemical which activates the part of the immune system responsible for increasing defence mechanisms against virus and bacteria attacks.
  • Garlic has anti-bacterial properties that help the immune system to fight infection, it is an excellent boost to the immune system. The reason for this is garlic contains several helpful compounds, including allicin, one of the plant kingdom's most potent antibiotics. Garlic combines well with echinacea and together make a strong fighting force against infections.
  • Ginger is another of natures' antiviral herbs. It contains nearly a dozen antiviral compounds. Ginger is pain relieving, antiseptic and antioxidant. It is valuable for preventing and treating colds, sore throats and inflammation of mucus membranes. Ginger reduces pain and fever and has a mild sedative effect that will encourage rest. (It is also great for ending nausea)
  • Goldenseal is both antiseptic and immune stimulating, increasing blood supply to the spleen. The spleen is the bodies staging area for the fighting cells in your immune system. Berberine is present in goldenseal, and activates macrophages (special white blood cells), which are responsible for destruction of bacteria, fungi, viruses and tumour cells.
  • Lemons are a rich source of vitamin c, and taken hot in a hot lemon and honey drink, is a traditional remedy for colds and sore throats.
  • Lemon Balm tea promotes sweating. (also Catnip or Catmint) This is good for feverish colds as it helps to eliminate the toxins from the body.
  • liquorice soothes chest and throat. It is used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, throat problems, colds and coughs. contains anti-viral compounds that induce the release of interferon, the bodies own anti-viral constituents. It is an expectorant* and anti-inflammatory making it excellent for stubborn coughs and lung infections. Large doses can act as a laxative. (can also raise blood pressure)
  • Onion is a close relative of Garlic and has similar properties, containing similar antiviral chemicals. Use onions and leeks in your cooking when you have a cold or are around people who do.
  • Peppermint- is a valuable expectorant, in the treatment of bronchitis, colds and flu. It reduces fevers by inducing sweating and cooling the body. It is also a painkiller for headaches and some migraines. It is a soothing decongestant and makes an effective inhalation for clearing blocked sinuses.
  • Sage- is a traditional remedy of long standing for soothing sore throats as it has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. For an inflamed throat and hoarseness use a hot sage infusion or gargle with a sage, apple cider vinegar and honey mix. In feverish conditions, sage is very cooling.
  • Vitamin C is very good for the relief of cold symptoms and to help the body fight infection. The best source of vitamins is always fresh fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruit is especially high in vitamin C.
  •               My favorite remedies are chicken soup with lots of garlic, and cinnamon tea with honey.